Growing up with Smokers and Problem Drinkers: A Model of Social Reproduction of Family Environment and Health in Later Adulthood

Daphne Kuo, University of Wisconsin at Madison

I examined the life-long impact of childhood health environment (smokers and problem drinkers) on adult health environment, and their joint influences on individual health, using Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. I found that older adults who grew up with smokers or problem drinkers were more likely to smoke long, to have drinking problems, to live with smokers or problem drinker, and to have poorer health (status, height, depression, hypertensions/heart problems, cancer, symptoms, medical conditions). Controlling for one’s own risk behaviors and living with smokers or problem drinkers after 18, the associations remained. Those living with problem drinkers after age 18 or currently exposed to smokers also had poorer health, more diagnosed illnesses, and physical symptoms. The controls included age, gender, child abuse, family configuration, aspirations at age 18, high school performance and IQ, SES, marriage and fertility. None explained or moderated the influences of ever living with smokers and problem drinkers.

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Presented in Session 86: Family Dynamics, Intergenerational Relationships, and Health